After unexpectedly high construction bids delayed the state’s efforts to cool 1,000 classrooms before 2017, the Hawaii Department of Education is seeking new bids for the project, according to a July newsletter.

Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent from the Office of School Facilities and Support Services, wrote that the DOE reopened the bidding pool in July. Early industry estimates projected the installation of an air conditioning unit in one classroom to cost $20,000, but bids ran as high as $135,000.

Fewer contractors than expected were qualified to do the job. Carlson said the DOE reached out to 3,000 contractors with the requirement that they have experience working in occupied buildings and good safety records.

A boom in the construction market meant higher bids and fewer skilled workers, the newsletter said. The costs of the equipment were close to what the DOE expected.

The DOE is looking to install photovoltaic air conditioning units, which harness solar energy to cool buildings. Because the project involves a PV system, AC system and electrical wiring, Hawaii law requires different subcontractors be hired for each piece, according to the newsletter.

“While we’re disappointed with this, we’re committed to our ongoing heat abatement efforts and will push for better prices so that we can cool more classrooms, not fewer,” Carlson said in the newsletter.

Solar panels, equipped with batteries to store extra energy, will be used to power the AC units.

Solar panels, equipped with batteries to store extra energy, will be used to power the AC units.

Jon Callas/Flickr.com

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